8 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 5.1 hrs on record
Posted: Mar 28 @ 8:21am
Updated: Mar 28 @ 8:34am
Product received for free

Attending an audition for a supporting part in a play which would give our heroine Sarah her stage debut; she is shocked to be asked to read for the lead role, and even more so to be offered it after doing so. She thinks this is everything she has ever dreamed of, but will quickly discover that this particular play has more to reveal than its script; being based upon a ghost story from 300 years earlier – and the ghost in question still being present within the theatre where the play is being rehearsed.

The visual presentation of both sprites and backgrounds is pleasing. The drawing style at first appears to be quite simple, but is so well complemented by the skilful use of colours that the end result is very attractive. Sprites are shifted around the screen (in a 2D fashion) in response to a comment that they are moving, their eyes look at each other during discussions, and feature a number of different expressions. It's always worth watching the visuals first before reading the next caption after moving on if you don't want to miss anything.

I don't often notice the background music unless it is either annoying or very good. This falls towards the higher end of that scale. I didn't feel that it massively enhanced any scenes, but it was pleasant enough to be noticed and I kept the sound a couple of steps higher than I would normally have it. I did feel that there could have been more effects within the game though. There are scenes where tension should be building: astute use of effects would have helped to enhance that, but any feelings of heightened anxiety were never brought out whilst reading.

This novel has been developed using Unity and therefore some controls are different to those we are accustomed to finding in the more commonly utilised Ren'py engine for the genre, although the developers have made a good fist of keeping most of the usual controls accessible by the same keys.
The biggest difference is that the <ESC> key has no effect. After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that pressing the right mouse button will bring up the menu. There is a basic series of options right at the bottom of the screen – but I chose “Windowed” from the display options at the start of the game, with the fullest available resolution – and as a result of this, said control list disappeared off the bottom of the screen, so I had no idea it was there at all. Be sure to select your display option carefully!

It appears that there is also no “back” option, but there is – if you plug a mouse in whilst playing, rolling the wheel will push the text back. There is also another way to jump back by using the LOG facility. Select the log from the menu, and captions from the current scene will be available for review, accompanied by a little clock icon. Click the clock accompanying the caption you wish to return to, and you're delivered back to that point in the story. It's worth noting though, that the log goes back only to the start of the current scene. “Scenes” can be identified by a brief delay and black screen between captions.

Overall experience and verdict
I expect that most reviews will categorise this novel as “short”, and leave it at that; but I think it warrants a little more elaboration. Certainly, on any given route, the play through time will not be extensive. However, I believe it is fair to highlight that the scripting within this story is sharp and concise. There is no “waffle” or “filler text”. Every caption is important.

There are also a wealth of choices relative to the size of the game. And I do mean a wealth.
Due to the nature of the concise narrative, this gives the unusual experience of being presented with a decision to make incredibly often. I frequently found a new choice to make a mere couple of captions after the last one. This does of course present a healthy amount of alternative text to discover, and provides replay value as you seek to find all of the endings, CGs and achievements.
First time through, this is quite lot of fun as you find yourself changing your mind as to the route you had intended to follow, and then back again... but by the time you come to different-end-chasing, the frequency of picking the same options several times over just to reach the ones you need to select alternatively, becomes a little tiring. Having to press SKIP over and over each time it stops (end of every scene) in an attempt to find a new ending which you might not achieve does have a wearing effect on your patience.

The story offers three romance options, including the ghost!, but does not really explore any of them, and only digs into the background of one of them. Love comes remarkably quickly and feels forced-in-before-the-story-ends, but it could be fairly argued that romance is not the focus of the story, rather more a sugar topping on the cake.

Overall, what matters most is, “was the game enjoyable?”
The answer is yes. I had a nice time playing through for half of the achievements before I began to tire, and by then I'd already decided that this a fun experience. The game describes itself as a “mysterious tale of heartbreak, romance, and supernatural events” - and that is precisely what is delivered.

The price is open to question, but not by an awful lot. Ignoring everything else, it's not a bad price for what you get. If you like the story and the visuals – and you should – then it's not going to leave you feeling unhappy. The problem here is that the nature of visual novels leaves them open to comparison with every other release on the market; and comparing enough similarly priced competitors will leave this one somewhere in the middle of the pack.

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Ceaseless Duality Mar 28 @ 9:43am